News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4

Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4

By Steven Otte | May 31, 2024

Steam locomotive features dual-mode Paragon4 sound decoder

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Color photo of N scale steam locomotive on scenic base.
The Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4 steam locomotive is based on a prototype used in mainline service between 1945 and 1958. The 2101 wears the Reading’s in-service paint scheme. Cody Grivno photos

An unusual steam locomotive, born of wartime necessity, has joined Broadway Limited Imports’ N scale lineup. The Reading Co. class T-1 4-8-4 Northern, converted from 2-8-0 Consolidation locomotives near the end of World War II, mostly handled fast freight, but also pulled passenger and coal trains.

In 1945, wartime restrictions kept Reading from buying new locomotives, but the railroad nonetheless found itself in need of a supercharged steam engine to pull fast freight. The answer was to rebuild existing engines. Reading Shops started with the boiler and firebox from the class I-10sa Consolidation, adding a new stretched frame, longer smokebox, and other components from Baldwin Locomotive Works.

Between 1945 and 1947, 30 class T-1s were built. Although they filled a vital need for the railroad, they didn’t last long. All but four, retained for excursion duties, were retired by 1958. The “Iron Horse Rambles” excursions ended in 1964, and those remaining engines were sold in 1965. All four survive today.

A closer look

Side view of N scale steam locomotive on white background.
Wire grab irons, handrails, and uncoupling levers; blackened metal side rods; and a working smoke unit are some of the features on the Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4. The drivers closest to the cab have factory-installed traction tires.

Our sample is numbered 2101, the second T-1 to come out of Reading Shops. The model strongly resembles photos of the prototype and its siblings printed in several books from the David P. Morgan Memorial Library collection. Its black paint is smoothly applied, and the lettering is straight and opaque. The tiny lettering on the back of the tender is legible under magnification.

The Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4 has wire grab irons, handrails, and uncoupling levers, as well as turned-brass boiler valves and bell. Other separate details are engineering plastic. The blackened metal valve gear and side rods were nicely done. There is a working smoke generator in the smokestack; I didn’t test this feature.

The model’s drivers were only 64 scale inches in diameter, compared to the prototype’s 70-inch drivers. However, that’s to be expected if a scale model is going to maintain a prototypical spacing between the drivers, as this one does.

The other dimensions I checked matched or came within a few scale inches of those on a builder’s drawing published in Steam Locomotives of the Reading and P&R Railroads by Edward H. Wiswesser (Greenberg, 1988).

The locomotive has a recommended minimum curve radius of 9.75″. Our sample had no trouble running forward or back on the 14″ curves and No. 6 turnouts on our MR&T State Line Route project layout.

All the wheels on our sample model were in gauge, and the working knuckle couplers on both front and back were mounted at the correct height.

On the test track

Color photo showing front of N scale steam locomotive on white background.
Details on the front of the Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4 include a knuckle coupler that’s compatible with the Magne-Matic line from Micro-Trains, a turned-brass bell, and a freestanding number plate. The headlight can be controlled separately from the light on the rear of the tender.

The locomotive’s Paragon4 DCC decoder is dual-mode, meaning the model will run under either direct current or DCC. I tested it first on DC. This model’s DC performance was better than most I’ve tested. A startup sound routine played when the voltage reached just over 8V. When the throttle reached 9V, the engine crept along the rails at a stately 3.4 scale mph. At our DC power pack’s top voltage of 13V, the engine sped at 94 smph.

The Broadway Limited N Reading T-1 4-8-4 delivered an even greater speed range under DCC control. Its speed at step 1 was too low for our test bench speedometer to detect — less than 0.1 smph. At speed step 28, it zipped along at 118 smph. This is faster than the prototype’s speed limit of 70 mph, but within the engine’s capabilities.

Finally, I plugged in our BLI Rolling Thunder unit. I enjoyed the deep throb of the subwoofer with each chuff.

Speaking of sound, the decoders in the Christmas and Fourth of July fantasy schemes are loaded with special holiday-themed sound sets. The manufacturer’s website has instructions on how to switch these to normal T-1 sound effects at n-locomotive-instruction-manuals.

Broadway Limited has made a model that runs as good as it looks. It sounds great, too, especially if you have a Rolling Thunder under your layout.

Facts & features

Price: $449.99


Broadway Limited Imports

9 East Tower Circle

Ormond Beach, FL 32174

Era: 1945-1958 (excursion locomotives -1964)

Paint schemes: Reading Co. in-service scheme (3 road numbers), American Freedom Train, Blue Mountain & Reading, Chessie Steam Special, Christmas fantasy scheme, Conrail steam special fantasy scheme, Delaware & Hudson Centennial scheme (with smoke deflectors), Independence Day fantasy scheme, and Iron Horse Rambles excursion scheme (3 numbers). One road number per scheme unless noted. Also available painted but unlettered.


  • Minimum radius: 9.75″
  • Paragon 4 dual-mode DCC sound decoder “Rolling Thunder” sound transmitter
  • Smoke unit
  • Weight: Engine only, 3.3 ounces; with tender, 5.8 ounces
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